His plan to punish me

As promised, I woke up at the crack of dawn on the Monday after Christmas to stand in line in the cold to get MonoBoy his actual drivers license.  He had basketball practice at 9:00am and he was so excited to drive there on his own, but we were going to be cutting it close.

While he drove off to practice, I drove straight to my insurance agent’s office to add him to my policy.  I asked her how it worked, since I was covering the kid, but his dad was covering the car, since it was in his name.  What insurance would he provide if he wrecked the car?  She looked at me like I was an idiot.  She said, “Your insurance insures your son to drive YOUR vehicles.  If that vehicle is his primary vehicle, then he needs to be added to THAT insurance as well.”  I told her what information that my ex had gotten from his insurance agent, and she said that I should warn him that it was a risk.

So I mistakenly did.  I hadn’t even finished my explanation of the conversation when he went APE SHIT.  He started screaming about how I screwed him by waiting until the last-minute to tell him.  I should have called and gotten this information weeks before.  He said that I was just trying to force him to have the insurance, and he would be damned if he would let me strong-arm him.

I was utterly shocked.  I couldn’t believe his reaction.  I didn’t understand it.  He seemed to be so angry about the timing.  All you have to do is make one phone call.  It’s not a big deal.

Cuss words were flying.  He asked where MonoBoy was and I responded that he drove to practice.  He screamed about him driving around town without insurance.  He said that he was going to take the car away from him and he was going to make sure that he knew that it was my fault.

I left work about the time that MonoBoy would be getting out of practice.  I wasn’t sure what was going to happen, but I knew it wasn’t good.  The Ex was there in my driveway when I arrived.  “Where is it?  Where did you tell him to hide the car?”

Are you kidding?  I haven’t talked to him.  I don’t know where he is.

He called MonoBoy and told him to go immediately to his house to discuss the car.  He got off the phone and screamed at me that he VOWED to make me pay for this.  I might have gotten away with these games with LoverBoy’s car last year, but this one was going to bite me in the ass.  He was going to make sure of it. “Mark my words!”

I was shaking.  I went into the house and cried.  What in the world just happened?  I had done exactly what I said I would do.  I added MonoBoy to my insurance.  Nothing had changed, and yet, I was a bad guy.  It was all so crazy, and yet, he was SO CONVINCED that I had done some evil deed.

I knew that this really had nothing to do with MonoBoy and his car insurance.  It had everything to do with the things that LoverBoy had told him the week before.  That’s what he wanted me to pay for.  I sat on the couch crying.  My reactions to him are not always normal.  Normal people would shrug it off because he’s out of his mind.  I cower in fear.  LoverBoy asked what was going on and I said that I had a fight with his dad about the car and I was waiting for MonoBoy to get home to talk about it.  Since I didn’t tell him the details, he freaked out and started texting MonoBoy to come home.

I was unaware and announced that I was going to the grocery store.  Doing normal things makes me feel normal better.  I was on Aisle 2 when my mom called, panting into the phone with a cryptic message, “The boys…fight…pretty bad.”

“The boys got into a fight?  A bad one?  Was it physical?  Do I need to come home?”

I abandoned my basket and headed to my house which was only two minutes away.  The boys were no where in sight.  I texted them both to come home so that we could talk about whatever had happened.  We are a family and we need to work it out.  LoverBoy replied that he was at his girlfriend’s and needed some space to calm down.  MonoBoy replied with “I’m going to stay with dad for a few days.”

He won.  Whatever had been said.  Whatever had been done.  He was able to carry out his plan to punish me.

More drama or mending fences?

Okay, where was I?  Let’s continue my tale of drama.

Fast forward a couple of days to the actual day of the big dance.  It also happened to be the night before MonoBoy was scheduled to take his driver’s test.  There was some scrambling around for a new suit because he’s grown 4″ since the last time he wore a suit (of course, he did), picking up the corsage, and then because I wasn’t frazzled enough, we went to practice some parallel parking.

On the way to the DPS office, MonoBoy’s phone rang.  And rang again.  And rang again.  Guess who!  Within moments, my phone rang and it was the usual, “MonoBoy isn’t answering my calls.”

Me:  “Sigh.  I know, we are on our way to practice some parallel parking before tomorrow.”

Ex:  “Well, I can take him to practice parking.  Why didn’t you call me?”

Me:  “We were already out and about and it should only take a few minutes.”

Ex:  “I’ll meet you there.”

Oh joy.

We got to the DPS office and he practiced his parking and it wasn’t long before I saw the big black truck.  I stepped out of the car and let The Ex climb in.  Luckily, there were a couple of MonoBoy’s friends in the back of the car, so I didn’t have to make up an excuse for wanting to stand on the sidewalk.  The new wifey got out of the truck and stood with me.  Don’t get me wrong here.  I like her.  I really do.  I’m also really, really, REALLY glad that she’s the one now living with The Ex and not me.

We chatted about boy stuff and car insurance and various other topics.  It was a jovial conversation, and we swapped stories about the woes of parenting teens until the gang returned.  I got into the car and we went on our merry way to continue the dance preparations.

A short time later, I got a text from LoverBoy.  “What’s up with Dad?  He’s acting crazy.”

“Did you miss a phone call from him?  You know that sets him off.”

“Yeah, I was building a puzzle [at his girlfriend’s house], but is that it?  He is really mad and threatening to come over here.  I’m really scared.”

Soon after, I got a call from his girlfriend’s mom that The Ex had indeed shown up over there, insisted on talking to her father, ranted about the disrespect of LoverBoy not responding to phone calls, then forcing LoverBoy to go home.”

I texted LoverBoy to see what was going on and he said that they were headed to my house and that his dad had threatened to “drop him.”  WHAT?  Wasn’t LoverBoy the favorite child just 3 short days ago????  Now he wants to fight him over a missed phone call?  I told him not to worry that I wouldn’t let it happen.

So there I was with a house full of boys getting ready for a dance and my ex yelling at my son on my front porch.  I had to force MonoBoy to shower, then get dressed, then BRUSH YOUR TEETH.  He was too busy looking out the window, threatening to go outside and tell off his dad, and pleading with me to stop what was happening.  After I ironed his shirt, I went outside to supervise.  I could tell that LoverBoy was seething while his father badgered him about admitting that he ignored his phone calls 80% of the time.

LoverBoy (through clenched teeth):  “I won’t say it’s 80% of the time, but I’ll give you a good 50% of the time, I purposely don’t answer your calls.” [Ouch]

The Ex:  “Well, that’s a problem and we need to fix it.”

LoverBoy:  “You can’t fix it.”

The Ex:  “The hell I can’t.  I’m your father.”

LoverBoy:  “You’re not really my father.  You’ve never been here for me.  Only when you choose to be.”

The Ex (glaring at me and shaking his head):  “I’m always here for you.  When have you called me and I haven’t been there?”

LoverBoy (tears streaming):  “That’s just it.  I wouldn’t call you.  You haven’t ever been there, so I wouldn’t even think to call you.”

The Ex (to me):  “Well, go ahead and pat yourself on the back.  You succeeded.  You turned him against me.”

At that time, he called his wife and asked her to get out of the truck and join our conversation.  When she got to the porch, he said, “I want you to tell him how much I love him.  What I say about him all of the time.  I’m going to go sit across the street so you can say whatever you want.”  She immediately starts in about how much he loves them and ALWAYS wants to include them on the things they do.  He misses them.  If he had his way, he would come over and make sure that they were doing the right thing every day.  She said that she knows he might have done some stupid things in the past, but he’s just not that guy anymore.

Ack.  Gag.

LoverBoy just kept shaking his head and saying that he didn’t want to have this conversation.  I intervened and told her what was said that prompted her to be summoned from the truck.  She asked LoverBoy if he had ever told his father those things before.  He said yes, but sat silently.  It was awkward.  I explained to her that LoverBoy had indeed said those things just a couple of years ago when his dad decided that he wanted to come home and be a family.  He told him THEN that he felt abandoned, and his dad promised to make it up to him, but it never happened.

I’ve said it before, I like this woman.  Although I am still AMAZED that she is still so clueless about him.  LoverBoy started to open up to her and told her that he only comes around when he wants to yell at him, and he can’t just be there for the discipline when there is no real relationship.  He told her that his dad had threatened to “drop him” on the way to the house.  She brushed it off that he didn’t mean it and that he was just trying to show how serious he was.  I said that it wasn’t appropriate.  The boys have witnessed violence in the past and still fear that he is capable of it, so there is no need to threaten them to show his seriousness.

She remained calm and LoverBoy responded.  The Ex came to the porch and I excused myself to take MonoBoy to the dance.  I was a nervous wreck about leaving, but I thought that Bambi could mediate and there was a good chance that The Ex would listen to her.

When I got home, I asked how it went.  He was tired and looked cried-out.  He said that at some moments, he thought his dad got what he was saying.  Then at other moments, he was making excuses for his actions and the talk seemed pointless.  I suggested that maybe it’s a starting point.

If only I believed that his father was capable of introspection and change.  Hopefully, for my boys sake, I am wrong.  The drama was exhausting, but it would be worth it if it resulted in mending fences.

 

Only the beginning

It turns out that the drama with The Ex on Friday was only the beginning.

He did some ranting to MonoBoy that night after the game (mostly about the girlfriend), but dropped it the next day because the entire “new family” was headed to his mother’s house for an early Christmas celebration.  That’s good luck, right?  Everything’s about appearance, so there would be no mention of MonoBoy’s indiscretions around family!

Unfortunately for MonoBoy, it just meant that he was punished in passive-aggressive ways.  LoverBoy had earned the title of “Favorite Child of the Day.”  It doesn’t happen often.  Almost rarely.  MonoBoy likes sports and laughs at his dad’s jokes, so he typically holds the title, but occasionally, when there is conflict, LoverBoy gets to shine.  (There is never a time when BOTH boys are made to feel special at the same time.  It’s one or the other, and it often pits them against each other.)

Anyway, according to the boys, a new perk of the title was that LoverBoy got to sit at the adult table for the Christmas meal, while MonoBoy had to sit with the kids.  I’m not so sure that this was a punishment perk as the boys viewed it.  In all honesty, it’s been a while since they attended an In-Law Family Christmas because The Ex has always been too busy with other things, like going to a Dallas Cowboys game.  (You’ve gotta have priorities, right?  Cowboys, Friends, Family, God, or something along that order.)  I think this trip had more to do with the new wife and new family, and the seating arrangement had more to do with space with the addition of another adult and other kids.

But being 16 and being forced to sit with younger kids while your 17-year-old brother enjoys adult conversation skews your perception a bit.  It was also mentioned that their dad bragged about LoverBoy’s grades and making the varsity soccer team, and their grandmother gushed over LoverBoy’s girlfriend, who had also made the trip and got a spot at the adult table.

They returned fairly early that evening because MonoBoy had agreed to escort a friend to the dance.  We found out at the last-minute that we were wrong about the date and the dance wasn’t until Monday.  (Another reason a cellphone punishment can really screw things up.)  Luckily, the florist knew that I had mixed up the dates and hadn’t already made the corsage.  I didn’t think, however, to pass the information along to his dad, until LoverBoy came running into my bathroom (I haven’t had privacy in 17 years) pointing at his muted phone.  “It’s Dad.  He asked if MonoBoy already left for the dance, and if he did, he wants to talk to you.”

MOOOONOOOBOOOY!!!!  Pick up that phone and tell your dad the truth.  I know he will yell about cutting his trip short, but it’s better than if he finds out from someone else!

I have to say that The Ex took the information rather well.  It was almost shocking.  I figured that the day must have gone so well in his mind that he was willing to forgive all.

Or that he was really just going to sit on it and brew.

DING DING DING

Yep, this was only the beginning.

 

I can feel it coming

Recently, MonoBoy reconciled with his girlfriend from last year.  I’m no stranger to young love and the effect it has on teen boys.  They lose their minds.  Add that to the beginning of the basketball season and the countdown to Christmas, and I found myself casually glancing at boarding school websites.

The night before midterms and a big game, I fell asleep on the couch (thanks to Benadryl) and woke up in around 2am, only to realize that MonoBoy was still awake facetiming with the girlfriend.  For future reference, the other facetime party can hear and see you when you snatch the phone out of your son’s hand while screaming at the top of your lungs.  Although, I didn’t really care at that point.

The next day, after much begging and pleading for his phone, he begrudgingly went to school without it.  He didn’t say it aloud, but I’m sure I felt the words “Worst Mom Ever” emitting from his angry eyes.

But you know who suffered the most from that punishment?  Me.  I mentioned some time ago that our school district offers this great little web portal for parents to see grades as they are posted and check on missing assignments and such.  It’s a great tool, unless it’s the last day of school and the last day of the grading period and the first day that your son is punished and does not have his phone to receive texts like, “Go ask Ms. So-and-So about the such-and-such missing grade.”  Or “Did you really make a 50 on that mid-term?  Wth?  You may never see daylight again.”

It also sucked for the kid who was so tired (from staying up all night on his phone) that he forgot his school lunch and couldn’t call mom to bring it.  But I don’t really feel all that bad about that particular issue.  The school has water fountains.  He has friends.

You know who else hates it?  The narcissistic man who thinks we are all at his beck and call.  I wouldn’t care much about that either, except that when he can’t get in touch with the kids, he calls me to announce it.  I kid you not.  Just a few days before, I answered the phone to this:

Ex:  “I’ve been calling MonoBoy and he hasn’t answered my calls.”

Me:  Yes, we heard the phone ring twenty times in the span of five minutes.  He’s driving and the phone is in his pocket and I won’t let him answer it.

Ex: “Oh, well tell him to call me as soon as y’all get home.”

Me: Aye, aye, Captain. (Is what I wanted to say.)

So here we were at the basketball game after MonoBoy had gone an ENTIRE DAY (or hour or ten minutes) without returning his calls/texts and after I had already refused to respond to his finger motioning to come hither.  I could feel it coming.  The anger in him was welling up and he looked like he might burst out of his skin.

After the game, I was talking to MonoBoy about his midterms and the missing grades when The Ex came stomping up.  Do you remember Yosemite Sam and how smoke would come out of his ears when he got mad?  Yeah, he looked like that.

(To MonoBoy)  “I tried to call you several times today.  I even texted you, but I never heard back from you.”

Me:  He didn’t have his phone.

Ex:  “He can speak for himself.”

MonoBoy: “I didn’t have my phone.”

Ex:  “Why?  Why didn’t he have his phone?  I’m his father.  I have a right to know.”

Me:  I caught him up at 2:00am talking on his phone and he had midterms today.  We were already sweating out whether or not he would this one class, so this was a bad day to…

Ex:  [interrupting] “Who were you talking to?  Was it a girl?  Was it that black girl?”

And there you have it.  The only thing that MonoBoy was going to hear about for the next 24 hours.  It didn’t matter that his grades were crap.  It didn’t matter if he was up until 2am the night before exams.  All that mattered was the skin color of the person that he was talking to.

And there was MonoBoy looking at me again with those eyes that said “Worst Mom Ever” or “I hate you.”  It’s hard to tell.  Those looks are so similar.  Could I blame him though?  I just poked a snake with a stick.  I didn’t mean to, but the snake sure was wide awake and pretty pissed off.  No matter how mad I might be at MonoBoy, he probably doesn’t deserve whatever it is that he’s about to get.

Oh gosh, I can feel it coming.

 

Beck and call girl

Last night, I was up late because my teenager is dumb (more on that in another post), and it meant that I spent my day trying to hold my eyelids open while I worked.

I left work early because I was scheduled to volunteer in the concession stand for some of the high school basketball games to raise money.  Our school district has been in the news recently for years because of its financial mess, which forces parents to peddle candy and other nutritious snacks to earn money for the nonessential sporting items like uniforms.  I stopped in the pouring rain to buy two cases of Gatorade to sell.  There’s not much point in volunteering to sell things if there’s nothing to sell, right?

(I guess the rain part is unimportant, except that it added to my lack-of-sleep, want-to-choke-a-kid, why-is-life-so-hard mood.)

While pouring chili and cheese onto chips, I saw The Ex and his new family stroll in just in time for the second game, which MonoBoy would play in.  It must be nice not to feel obligated to help anyone but yourself.  Are there classes on how to become self-centered and selfish or can I just take a pill that will accomplish that?

When I was done with my duty, I headed to the stands to find my seat.  Alone.  Still tired and peeved at MonoBoy.  Still wet from the rain and smelling like a big ol’ plate of nachos.  The Ex was seated at the top and motioned for me to walk all the way up the stands to talk to him.  And I would have, if I had a big stick to carry along with me.

This is a favorite trick of his.  Beckoning me with his finger.  Oh, how he loves to beckon – in person, by phone, you name it.  I hadn’t really noticed it until after our divorce when my ex-mother-in-law pointed it out at a baseball game.  I was seated at the top of the stands that time and he was near the dugout.  Of course, I jumped and ran when he pointed at me and then did the come-hither motion with his finger.  I was still pining over him then, so I was thrilled that he wanted to talk to me.  I felt special.

When I got back to the stands, my mother-in-law was shaking her head.  She told me that I looked like a puppy, happily wagging my tail at the slightest show of attention.  Ouch.  Next time, warn me before you slap me.  The truth hurts.

Ever since I was slapped with reality, I tend to get annoyed by his beckoning.  She was right.  I wasn’t special.  I merely existed to make his life easier.  Shoot, the entire world exists merely to revolve around him.  Whatever conversation he wants to have must be had right then when he feels like it.  If he feels the conversation (or the marriage) is over, so be it.  He has spoken. Or stopped speaking.

Well, humph, I am not Julia Roberts in “Pretty Woman.”  No one is paying me to be a “beck and call girl.”  Especially when your ass has been sitting comfortably in the stands, while I have been schlepping processed cheese products.

I shook my head to his come-hither finger motion.  His gesture grew bigger using his whole arm, as though I was blind.  I didn’t move, so he said, “Jo, come here!”  All that was missing was the dog-call whistle.  I said, “No, you come here.  Your legs aren’t broken and I’m not your wife, so if you have something to say, you can climb down the stands to me.”

Okay, it was rude, but it was much nicer than taking off my shoe and hurling it at his head like I wanted.  He yelled, “I was only trying to HELP you.”  And then he said some other stuff that I couldn’t hear because I had already turned around in my seat.  Plus, I couldn’t hear much over the sound of the blood pounding in my ears as I tried to hold back a scream.  Or holding back my arm from taking off my shoe and throwing it.

His wife came down to me in her sweet, peace-keeping way. (No, that’s not sarcasm.  I was once in her shoes.  I played the peacekeeper role for many years.)  She said, “I was just telling him that I could volunteer in the concession stand some time if you need me to.”  I smiled and nodded enthusiastically because it was the right thing to do.  She didn’t deserve my anger.  In my mind, though, I was thinking, “Yeah right.  Just like you guys said when I sent the emails about volunteering to raise money for the soccer team.  You were on board until the time came and then suddenly, your phones were broken or something because I never heard from you again.”  Whatever.  I smiled and she went back to her seat.

Who wants to take bets on whether or not they volunteer in January when sports resume?  We have an event scheduled on January 4th…anyone?  If you vote that you think they might stay true to her volunteering word, then you might not want to take up betting as a living.

But hey, I hear there’s an opening for a beck-and-call girl!